Review Summary: I know I ain't got no biz, but it is what it is.
When I was younger and first starting to establish a musical identity, I fell into the same pits that most teenage boys do. I decided that pop music was stupid and that most female singers weren’t worth listening to. Though I would never say it, I basically decided I was better than everyone else because I steered my trawler through blogs full of relatively obscure music and sifted through the contents of my net with what I assumed was a discerning eye. Now that some time has passed, I’m able to see that those feelings I had were tied to my own insecurities. I thought if I could come up with some semblance of a respectable musical identity, I’d know who I was supposed to be in every other facet of my life as well. It didn’t work that way, of course, just like it never works that way for anyone
who tries to make their personality about one thing. In fact, I’ve left behind most of the music I found on those blogs, yet I’ve cultivated an intense love for pop music in the past few years.
Because here’s something I know now: there is no more to me than there is to Bangerz
is uneven as fu
ck, with highs that rival the pop greats and lows as low as you’re likely to ever hear. There are several moments that leave me wincing, like all of “SMS (Bangerz)” and “Love Money Party,” and also any time that Miley attempts to rap (“Do My Thang”). You should also prepare to hear people say “Mike WiLL Made It” a lot on this album, because he produced a bunch of these songs and producers these days love nothing more than inserting their names into songs. But who cares? I can’t ever admit that I’m wrong and I have a jealous streak the size of the east coast. How could I ever have thought I was too good for this music? Despite the lesser qualities of Bangerz
, one of the nice things about pop albums is that they are rarely meant to be experienced as a whole. Just skip the bad songs and listen to the way “Wrecking Ball” puts to shame Taylor Swift’s recent dubstep attempt with a chorus that is big to the point of excess. The song as a whole is filled to the brim with the kind of wonderfully overwrought melodrama that is vital to any good pop ballad, and the same can be said of “We Can’t Stop,” the tongue-wagging anthem that presumes that rational adults everywhere are trying to stop of-age young people from going all night until they see the sunlight.
This delusional “growing up is bad” aspect of Bangerz
is part of what makes it good, because it means that Miley can pull off things that shouldn’t work. Case in point, “FU” is stupid as shi
t, full of text-speak and lyrics like “I’m not as stupid as you sound, and you sound really dumb right now.” But the chorus is so good, with a pulsing beat that allows Miley plenty of room to show off her voice (which is and always has been lovely), no matter how banal the lyrics are. “#GETITRIGHT” may have the worst title ever (seriously, this musical hashtag fad is worse than the time Soulja Boy named an album after his website), but it’s exquisitely well-produced and relatively understated in comparison to the rest of the album. It’s one of the few songs that lives up to the 80s-as-fu
ck album cover, sounding a little bit like classic Madonna with a nice modern sheen.
is the kind of shallow pop that I would have hated when I was sixteen, but I was also a fu
cking idiot back then. And I may not be an idiot now, but I’m still no deeper than Bangerz
, and I’m certainly no better than Miley. If I was a female pop star, I’d be getting naked all the time and doing a bunch of drugs and grinding against Robin Thicke if it meant I’d get more money. Would it be good or bad for me to do that? Is it good or bad that Miley does it? I don’t know, but I do know that pop music is about not giving a fu
ck whether something is good or bad. That’s why a song as dismal as “SMS” and a song as amazing as “Wrecking Ball” exist within spitting distance of each other. And for all the repetition and insubstantiality that plagues it, pop music has still given us its creed, a mantra to repeat when things get so bad you have to close your eyes and wonder what the fu
ck you’re doing with your life: it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright…